Green Party: £400,000, 335 candidates – and one MP?

It's Brighton Pavilion or Bust today for the Green Party, who appear to have their best-ever chance of a Westminster seat with the candidature of their leader, Caroline Lucas, in the Sussex seaside resort.

After 30 years in the Parliamentary wilderness, but growing local influence around the country, the Greens have mounted their biggest-ever general election campaign this year with candidates in 335 constituencies, at a total cost of just under £400,000 – small beer compared to the main party election budgets, perhaps, but a big sum for a party with fewer than 10,000 members.

They are concentrating their efforts on just three seats they think are winnable, with Norwich South and Lewisham Deptford joining Brighton Pavilion in their sights. In Norwich South, the party's deputy leader, Adrian Ramsay, is standing against the former Labour cabinet minister (and leading critic of Gordon Brown) Charles Clarke. The Greens have 13 councillors in Norwich, making them the official opposition, and came first in the city in last year's Euro elections.

In Lewisham Deptford they will field Darren Johnson, councillor and chair of the London Assembly, against Joan Ruddock, the minister for Energy and Climate Change; they have six Green councillors in Lewisham and in recent local elections polled 27 per cent.

But Labour-held Brighton Pavilion, the seat at the bohemian heart of what is perhaps Britain's most "alternative" city, is their best chance of all, where Ms Lucas has been the bookmakers' odds-on favourite all of this year, and remains so this morning, at 8-11.

You can see why. The former Oxfam adviser has reformed her party, getting rid of the wacky tendencies which once made it a political joke, broadened its policy base, and is herself a formidable and assured political operator, having been MEP for South-East England since 1999. Furthermore, the popular local Labour MP, David Lepper, whose opposition to the Iraq war helped his re-election last time round, is standing down.

But Ms Lucas's success is by no means assured: the big question in Pavilion is, what effect has the Clegg surge had? The nightmare for the Greens is that the renewed support for the Liberal Democrats will split their vote and let in Ms Lucas's principal rival, now the Conservative candidate, Charlotte Vere, a former banker who is chief executive of an online support network for the emotionally troubled. A poll of voting intentions carried out in January by ICM Research showed the Greens holding an eight-point lead over the Tories, with the Greens on 35 per cent, the Tories on 27, Labour on 25 and the Liberal Democrats on 11 per cent.

The Greens' influence is steadily growing around the country, and they now have 126 councillors on 43 "principal authorities" in England and Wales (ie, not including parish councils). But despite that, Britain remains the only major European country which has never had Greens in its national legislature and if Caroline Lucas were elected it would be seen as a breakthrough. Ms Lucas said yesterday that she tops the poll she will hold an immediate "open access surgery" on the streets of Brighton tomorrow.

"We'll go out and about there and then, on the Friday afternoon, for people to raise concerns they have," she said. "We'll be trying to demonstrate that one of the ways we can rebuild trust in MPs is by listening to people and letting them know we are driven by their concerns."

THE POLICIES

Taxation

The Greens want to "rehabilitate progressive taxation" – bring back higher taxation on higher incomes. They will raise taxation from 36 per cent of GDP in 2009-10 to 45 per cent in 2013.

Reducing inequality

The Greens would impose a permanent tax on bankers' bonuses, and a higher rate of income tax of 50 per cent on incomes over £100,000.

Climate change and energy

The party aims to obtain half of Britain's energy from renewable resources by 2020, and ensure that carbon emissions from power generation are zero by 2030.

Transport

Speed limits would be 20mph in towns, 40mph on rural roads and 55mph on motorways. They would end the £30bn roads programme and reinvest it in public transport.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff
tv

Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Arts and Entertainment
tv

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmWhat makes the little man tick?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes hobby look 'dysfunctional'
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary teaching jobs in the Swaffham area

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Are you a fully quali...

Year 1 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Primary General Cover Teachers needed

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

Year 2 Teachers needed for day to day roles

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Ye...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week